BOSTON — The Boston College Eagles are a team that is loaded with high-end college hockey talent. The Eagles’ best line, which features three NHL draft picks, is quite possibly one of the best in the history of college hockey. Yet it was an unsung hero that ended up propelling BC to yet another Beanpot title.
Boston College won its fifth straight Beanpot title on Monday night, as they pulled away late for a 4-1 win over Northeastern University. The Eagles’ recent dominance is bordering on unprecedented as their five straight titles is now the second-longest streak in Beanpot history, trailing only Boston University’s six straight titles from 1995 through 2000.
Many expected that top line featuring Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes to steal the show and propel the Eagles to five straight. They certainly played a role in the most recent title — Gaudreau fed Hayes for the game’s first goal and Gaudreau added an empty-netter — but the real hero for BC ended up being someone who’s been around the block a time or two when it comes to playing in the Beanpot.
With the game tied 1-1 and seemingly destined for overtime, one of the team’s strongest leaders, captain Patrick Brown, stepped up when the Eagles needed him most. Brown, while on the seat of his pants in front of the Northeastern net, somehow tipped an Isaac MacLeod shot-pass from the point by Northeastern goalie Clay Witt with 5:30 to play in the third period. That ended up being the eventual game-winning goal and put Brown in line to finish his Beanpot career with four titles.
Boston College head coach Jerry York, who won his eighth tournament title with the win over the Huskies, says he puts that goal “right at the top” among the Beanpot goals he’s been behind the bench for.
“He was on his knees, his back and he reaches back and redirected the puck,” York said. “That’s an amazing, amazing goal for us.”
The goal is a bit of a microcosm for Brown’s BC career. He wasn’t heavily recruited by the Eagles, but he made the most of his opportunities upon reaching Chestnut Hill. The son of 15-year NHL veteran and two-time Stanley Cup winner Doug Brown, the Michigan native came to Boston College and worked hard to earn his spot. He played in just 42 games over his first two seasons, but he eventually earned the respect of his coaches and teammates. So much so, in fact, that he was eventually voted captain.
“He kept working and getting stronger,” York said. “Most teams you see in the country, their very best player’s their captain. Historically that’s the way it is. Patrick has such leadership skills that he didn’t need to be our best player. He didn’t have to be an All-American, a Hobey Baker candidate for the team to recognize him. We vote for captains, and it was unanimous that he’d be our captain. It kind of shows you how well-respected he is because of his work ethic and just being a terrific young guy.”
That same hard work that turned Brown into a Boston College captain turned him into a Boston College Beanpot hero on Monday night. Brown’s persistence in front of the net put him in a position to make the most out the work he’s done in practice over the years.
“That’s a skill he works at during practice,” York said. “It’s something that’s he’s very, very good at. In the heat of the moment, late in the game to reach out and redirect the puck past the goaltender, it’s a pretty special play. I’ll remember that for a very long time.”
Brown, naturally, opted to give the credit to his teammates.
“Isaac MacLeod works hard every day shooting for sticks,” Brown said. “It was a great shot-pass. I was just trying to find a spot in the slot where he could hit my stick. I was getting mauled a little bit and fell down, but I was just able to get my stick on it. He made a great tape-to-tape pass.”
The Boston College hockey program will continue to find success, thanks in large part to stacked recruiting classes filled with some of the best players in the sport. However, as Brown reminded everyone in and after the Beanpot final, there’s still plenty of room for leadership and direction on the ice and in that BC dressing room.
“We hold ourselves accountable,” Brown said. “We want everyone working hard every day in practice. No one taking days off, no one hiding. We’ve got talented guys, but they’ve gotta work hard, too. The guys with less talent have gotta work harder.”
If the Eagles can continue to mix top-flight talent with hard workers like Brown, don’t expect their dominance of the Beanpot — and the college hockey postseason — to end any time soon.
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